October 15, 2020
A private funeral will be held for Dale Adcock, one of the last of my old neighbors from the days when I lived on Blauvelt’s Hill. I want to emphasize the term (old) as opposed to those I classify as the “youngsters.” While I consider them to be the youngsters, most readers of this newspaper will put them in a different class. For an example we have recently had an ad in this newspaper for one of those youngsters, Twila Cool, congratulating her on her 80th birthday.
The Adcock family purchased part of the farm my grandfather once owned and moved to Montana Township about 1953 or 1954. Though they lived there less than 10 years, the Adcocks are part of many of my childhood memories.
At the time I thought Dale was old for he was the father of two children, both of which were older than I was. Dale died this week at 99. Thus my “old neighbor” was about 33 when he moved to the Kleveland farm, An age I now consider to be young so it is easy to understand why people listening to my stories get confused when I use the terms young or old to describe someone.
Dale was a good neighbor. I roamed freely over his land and played in his barns. In later years, when his focus turned from cattle to land, he would tell me about the land he had purchased and invite me to go look it over like I did when a youngster.
I was in one his barns with other youngsters who had pilfered cigarettes. Though with my long-standing breathing problems I wasn’t smoking, I remember a dropped cigarette caused an alarm. Had the barn burned, I would have been among those blamed for the fire.
He sometimes gave me a ride to country school, though I don’t think he ever gave me a ride home. When school was dismissed at 4 o’clock, Dale was off somewhere attending a livestock auction.
At the time I thought Dale was on the lazy side because he was still hanging around home at 8:30 or so when it was time to leave for country school. I considered him to be a farmer and I thought farmers should be out working by 7 a.m. or before. One neighbor with a dairy herd got up at 4 a.m. to start milking. Another didn’t get up so early but he worked late and milked about 10 p.m. There was one who didn’t milk cows who expected the gasoline station to be open by 6 a.m. If it wasn’t, he came knocking and on occasion all he wanted was to fill and ice his water jug.
I have since have come to believe that Dale was among the hardest working neighbors we had. While some did more physical work, he was working his brain 24/7.
In those years, Dale made his living buying and selling livestock. He attended livestock sales Monday through Saturday. I equated going to a livestock sale with a social outing for as a youngster that’s what a trip to the sale was for me. I didn’t spend much time looking at the livestock or considering what the animals sold for. Instead I liked to watch the people attending the sale, listen to the conversations and perhaps play with the other youngsters who had gone to the sale with their parents. If I was good and didn’t make my dad or grandpa mad, I might get to have a piece of sale barn pie. Those slices of pie eaten with the men attending the sale were among the best.
I didn’t realize the skill it took to out-think the other buyers and make money trading livestock.
Though I was just a youngster, Dale treated me like an adult. He seemed to value my opinions and he gave me responsibility. Though he often employed one or two hired men, he sometimes asked me to help him with tasks around his farm.
Thanks to Dale I came to like Massey Ferguson tractors. My father never owned a new tractor but Dale let me drive his new Massey Ferguson 65 diesel. I looked for reasons to borrow that tractor.
Dale was a progressive farmer. He was among the first to use a rotary tiller instead of a plow to work his land. In the 1950s, when a field was too wet for conventional planting, he hired a crop duster to fly over the field and seed it.
I dreamed of being a cowboy but I was far better in my dreams than I was in real life. I busted my buttons when Dale asked me settle a pony he had bought for a hired man’s son to ride. That winter we swapped horses. I rode the new horse and Terry rode mine.
That experience was a reality check. The horse was willing to take me in the general direction I wanted to go though he determined the route and the speed we traveled.
The Adcocks built a house in Superior and moved from Montana township when I was in high school but our friendship continued.
Many mornings I met Dale when we stopped at the post office for our mail. He was always willing to visit a bit and share personal insights. He seemed to have few secrets and sometimes showed my a piece of mail he thought I would be interested in. He was never willing to talk about others. In his later years, I tried several times to get him to share stories from his days attending livestock sales but he always declined saying he didn’t remember. I know he had stories our readers would have enjoyed because I heard others tell stories which involved Dale and sale barn life.
I don’t think he had forgotten those stories. I suspect he didn’t want to tell a story about another person. His obituary says he respected the land and livestock. He also respected other people and didn’t want to make someone mad with a newspaper story they might not find flattering.
I watched him work with his livestock in a cool, calm manner. I admired his ability with animals for he often bought the animals no one else wanted.
Sometimes he brought surprises home.
While I was in grade school, he brought a pair of llamas home. I’m not sure what he planned to do with those animals but his son, Tom, and I thought we could make money offering llama rides. We made a sign and brought the animals to the gasoline station. At first, the one that was broke to ride was cooperative but before we got through offering free rides to our friends, she had grown tired of our nonsense and refused to work for us.
We didn’t want to push her hard for llamas fight by spitting and neither of us relished being the target for llama spit.
The llama project wasn’t the first time the Adcock youngsters tried to make money offering rides. I have a sheet of plywood on which they painted a sign offering pony rides.
Pony rides are popular at celebrations but I doubt Tom and Janet had many takers since only a half-mile away from their farm my father offered “free” rides for the youngsters whose parents bought gasoline from him.